There’s a marked difference between children and adults when asking them to look out at something while I’m photographing. No matter how camera aware a child might have been just moments prior, once I’ve directed their eyes outward and simply asked them to notice……they notice. They allow the object of their attention to enter into themselves fully, no matter how small or insignificant this object may be. Usually, if I leave them to their observing uninterrupted, they will quickly have forgotten about me and my camera. I love this about them.
We adults, on the other hand, have such a difficult time with this simple task, and just can’t give ourselves over to something else that easily or immediately. When asking an adult subject to look out, even when they are doing so with the best of intentions to cooperate, I know there is a still a part of them, usually a large part, that continues to be distracted and aware of the photographing.
There is also a marked difference in me when photographing children and adults, one that I wish didn’t exist. When I’m observing a child who is observing, I'm lost in them, absorbed to the degree that nothing else enters my consciousness. The camera in my hands isn’t separate from me…..the child isn’t separate from me….even the things the child sees that I can’t see are all present and integrated within the frame. Our looking out together has melded, forming a swirling circle, and we are in fact looking in.
Should it be any wonder then, that I would choose children as my photographic specialty?